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  • Reverend James Squire

The Ethical Issues Of The Abortion Debate

There is an interesting article in today’s Inquirer, Roe Critics Cite an Unlikely Source by Robert Barnes (Inquirer August 8). Proponents of the Mississippi request of the Supreme Court written by Republican Attorney General Lynn Fitch is based in cherry picking a few words from Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s position on Roe V. Wade.

The article quotes Ginsburg as saying, “My idea of how choice should have developed was not a privacy notion, not a doctor’s right notion, but a women’s right to control her own destiny, to be able to make choices without a Big Brother state telling her what she can and cannot do.”

Ginsburg disagreed with one of the original premises of Roe V. Wade that this was a privacy issue.

So anti-abortion advocates are seizing on the issue that Ginsburg didn’t think that this was a privacy issue. What has Lynch and others forgotten about the abortion issue? It was much more than private v. public domain issue. One of the early issues with gay marriage was that gay people ‘s sexual lives should be private and not governed by a public morality standard. Ginsburg would support that view as she would the privacy or women’s right issue, but there is so much more to the abortion law of the land that was contained in her full position.

We forget the original questions that brought Roe V. Wade into existence. The central question was when does life begin. For some they believe that it starts at conception where the potential for life exists. This is the Roman Catholic position based in Natural Law and not interrupting the natural flow of life. We will see later that Natural Law also has an argument that is pro-abortion. The next stage of when life begins was thought to be at implantation when the embryo attaches to the uterine wall of the mother. The next stage of when life is thought to begin is the quickening stage of embryo development at three months. This is the present law of the land. The most liberal position known as the Women’s Centered View was that the woman should have the right to abort a fetus at any time after three months if the health of the woman is at stake.

Once you pick where you feel life begins, you have to match that to at least one of four perspectives. The Roman Catholic view as previously noted is at conception because of the potential for life. Some denominations in Judaism believe in the “Law of the Pursuer” that if the fetus is pursuing the mental of physical health of the mother, that abortion is permissible. A good many secular views and religious faith perspectives believe that abortion is wrong but necessary, the Via Media, which is my view, and the most liberal view is that the mother should control all of the decision making at any stage is based in the other side of Natural Law. The other perspective of Natural Law advocates for the most sacred thing that we possess is our property, something that we have mixed our labor with, which at its primary state is our body.

People knew that Justice Clarence Thomas was a follower of Natural Law, but they didn’t know which side of Natural Law was his view during his confirmation hearing.

Roe V. Wade can be argued under the headings of when life begins and a matching position or perspective.

Let’s look at something that no one on either side of the abortion debate has entered enough in the discussion. Why was Roe V. Wade necessary in the first place that it was adopted when it was presented?

It is found in the word access. When you think about it equal access is the central issue in the voting rights debate and new laws making voting more difficult that have been made by the Republicans.

Abortion is also a social justice issue. If you are a woman with means, you have access to resources to get an abortion that poor people don’t. Backroom abortions were literally killing poor women. If you boil our Constitution down to just two words, those two words would be “equal access.”

Here is where the Roman Catholic view is limited. Fight for the right to life of the fetus, but I am only going to believe your certainly and passion if you support the right to life for the child of someone whose circumstances require much assistance. That’s not ever happened and is as important a sanctity of life issue as bringing the child into this world. You can’t have selective sanctity of life for it defies another piece of Natural Law which is the law of consistency which is why the Roman Catholic Ethic is an all in ethic where you are against contraception, abortion, euthanasia or mercy killing, and against capital punishment. You can’t pick or choose.

It is ironic that the Republicans are for overturning Roe V. Wade but not passionate about being vaccinated which directly affects the lives of the most vulnerable who are children under the age of 12. Vaccinations are a sanctity of life issue as well. How come that hasn’t become part of our national conversation of what it will take to get rid of the Delta Variant?

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